Like many things in the Kingdom, our life in Christ is paradoxical. We’re already complete in Him, yet we’re growing up into Him (Eph.4:13, 15). Both are equally true.
And grace transports us from where we are experientially to who we already are in reality.
What this means is that there is no attaining to righteousness, holiness, or more of anything we could have in God. For everything we could ever have is a free gift we’ve already been given.
Don’t believe me? Well, I’ll let Paul speak to us about this, using the Amplified Bible. (bold-type added, parentheses and brackets in original)…
“9 For in Him the whole fullness of Deity
(the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form
[giving complete expression of the divine nature].
10 And you are in Him, made full
and having come to fullness of life
[in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father,
Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature].
And He is the Head of all rule and authority
[of every angelic principality and power].” (Col.2:9-10 AMP)
Do you see the connection here? My experience has been that most believers understand that Christ had the fullness of the Godhead living bodily in Him, but they don’t seem to understand that in them dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
This is what Paul is actually saying here, that in Christ the fullness of the Godhead continues to dwell in bodily form (see vs.9 above).
And just whose body does this Godhead continue to live in now? Right, yours!
Furthermore, it says that we’ve been made full, filled with…we’re already complete in Him. We already have this complete expression of the divine nature. Therefore, whatever defines Christ defines us because we are in Him.
Do you see this?
Or have you learned an orphan Christian mythology that hardens us in our illusion of separation, making us victims of alien identities given to us?
Conversely, this also means that the Law will never bring us to who we are in any way, shape or fashion. In fact, this pursuit will propel us in the opposite direction and darken our minds about who we are in Him.
For when try to grow up into Christ by even the slightest part of the Law (yes, including the Ten Commandments, which Paul called a “ministry of death written on stones” – 2 Cor.3:7-11), we increase the power of sin in our lives; we have not come closer to God, we have fallen from grace and trampled the blood of Christ underfoot (Rom.7:7-11; Gal.5:4, 9; Heb.10:29).
The only thing the Law can ever do is reveal the flesh so that we will stop eating from the wrong tree and enter into the rest of the Spirit (Gen.2:17; Heb.4:1-2).
Paul tells us we’re now married to Christ because the Law died (Rom.7:1-6). Actually, Jesus wiped out this handwriting of requirements against us (Col.2:11-14) by killing us on the cross with Him. Beloved, don’t be deceived. This is not a future event that’s up to you by any human effort; it’s a historical fact that Christ has done. Hallelujah!
Now, if you’re married, pursuing a relationship with another lover is called adultery, right? Yet, many sincere teachers today think that flirting with the Law while being married to Christ is the godly thing to do.
I couldn’t possibly overstate this point. There is nothing more toxic to our spiritual vitality, more infectious and cancerous, destroying our joy and peace and producing nothing but death, than mixing any part of the Law with grace.
In fact, this is the very reason believers fall away from the faith, for you cannot sustain a life of self-effort–one filled with condemnation and frustration–indefinitely.
This was Paul’s greatest fear (Gal.4:11). That the good news that brings great joy and delight (definition of the gospel) would be subverted by our perverse grace-hating need to justify ourselves. Not only this, we insult the Gracious Giver by insisting on paying for something that He has freely offered to us.
And this religious perversity is more subtle and insidious in the body of Christ today that we might think.
Whenever we say things like, “if you do this, then God will do…” we are trampling on the grace of God by making conditional something already given to us.
Even when we try to contemporize the Ten Commandments, making them practical principles to follow instead of being the fruit of walking in the Spirit as sons of God, we have fallen from grace. We are preaching “another gospel” (Gal.1:6; 3:1-5). For mixing Law with grace is the Law, not grace.
Of course, when we use grace as an excuse to live a sinful lifestyle, we’re the rebellious orphan, also trampling grace underfoot (Gal.5:13; Jude 1:4).
The point is, all of these responses are works of the flesh.
We DO need to attain understanding of who we already are. This is why Paul prayed that the eyes of our heart would be enlightened…knowing this…that we died to our Adamic nature forever, that our life is now Christ’ life, that we are as He is in this world (Eph.1:18; Rom.5:17; 6:6; Gal.2:20-21; Col.3:3; 1 John 4:17).
Because just like we were born as a human being with all our body parts, we were born into Christ with everything we will ever have. Yet we need to know how to use what we’ve been given in full maturity.
But also know that this is the very opposite of trying to imitate Christ by following principles and outward moral codes.
The grace that brings salvation (Titus 2:11-12) also means that it brings wholeness, healing and deliverance from all that is not like Christ in our lives.
And this grace is only found in a Person–Jesus Christ. It’s life lived in the eternal Triune Godhead, because we are in Him and He is working in us–tirelessly, joyfully, delightfully–until we have come to the very knowledge of Christ (Eph.4:13).
Photo credit: original by Mateusz Stachowski (modified). Used by permission through freeimages.com.